MDMA-Assisted Therapy for Social Anxiety in Autistic Adults

What is social anxiety?

Social anxiety frequently compounds the considerable social challenges experienced by autistic adults.

Social anxiety, also known as social phobia, is characterized by fear of scrutiny and avoidance of social interactions. Social anxiety is prevalent, begins early, and follows a chronic course. Impairment is substantial in typically developing (TD) individuals and it interferes with ability to work and attend school, as well as developing relationships, leading to low quality of life.

Autistic adults who are verbal and whose autism might not be immediately recognizable to others often initially present in a clinical setting with symptoms of anxiety or depression. Autistic adults are at an increased risk for developing anxiety and depression as they are faced with increasing amounts of exposure to social situations compared to children. Long-term studies following autistic children into early adulthood have found that behavior and emotional problems remain high in adulthood.

"You are more like Mr. Spock from Star Trek, in a world that expects and sometimes demands that you behave like Captain Kirk, and you have no idea how to do that nor do you particularly want to."

Read the complete article by Alicia Danforth, Ph.D.

Comparative studies suggest that autistic adults, especially those who are verbal and whose autism might not be immediately recognizable to others and who are faced with strong pressure to conform to non-autistic social norms, are at greater risk for lifetime and current psychological disorders, especially social anxiety.

Additional information about social anxiety is available in the study protocol.

Featured Article

MDMA-Assisted Therapy:
A New Treatment Model for Social Anxiety in Autistic Adults

by Alicia L. Danforth, Christopher M. Struble, Berra Yazar-Klosinski, Charles S. Grob

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